- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Just two songs into Green Day’s headlining set at the Hella Mega tour launch at Arlington, Texas’s Globe Life Field, Billie Joe Armstrong asked for the houselights to be turned on so he could see the roughly 35,000 people in the audience. This was quite possibly the largest rock audience that had assembled anywhere in the world since the start of the pandemic, and he wanted to bask in their glow.
“Take a look around you,” he said. “This is human contact. We cannot be locked up anymore. We need to be together.”
More from Rolling Stone
It was a sentiment shared by every performer throughout the five-and-a-half hour concert, which also featured the Interrupters, Weezer, and Fall Out Boy, and it was almost enough to make you forget that the Delta variant is causing infection spikes all over America, mask mandates are returning, and the future is suddenly feeling very uncertain again. But the youthful crowd seemed unbothered by this, and masks were worn by no more than one out of every 300 people.
Covid issues aside, the show was wildly entertaining and well worth the nearly two-year wait fans have had to endure since the initial tour announcement. Like a 2005 iPod set to shuffle, it veered from “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” to “Beverly Hills” to “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” and since none of the artists have been on the road since in over a year and a half, they all had energy of racehorses freed from their starting gates.
Natalie Perez for Rolling Stone
After a quick opening set by the L.A. ska punk band the Interrupters, who won over the crowd with their unique take on Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” Weezer came out. It was hard to recognize Rivers Cuomo for a moment because of his new mustache and mullet look, not to mention his studded leather jacket that shows he’s really embracing this whole Van Weezer era.
The early part of their set was heavy on new songs like “Hero,” “All The Good Ones” and “The End of the Game,” a bold move for a stadium show, but the opening notes of “My Name is Jonas” triggered a flood of classics like “Undone – The Sweater Song,” “Surf Wax America” and “Island In The Sun.” No matter how many times they’ve played them over the years, they always work.
“El Scorcho” generated some of the loudest cheers of the night thanks to the line about asking a girl out to a Green Day concert, and the inevitable “Africa” came not longer after it. Cuomo got a little confused when he got to the “I stopped an old man along the way” part and started just muttering “blah blah blah.” Perhaps the fact that Weezer’s biggest hit in years is a novelty cover of a 1982 Toto song has left him less than thrilled. The audience took over until the recovered on the chorus. After the live debut of “California Snow,” they ended with singalong renditions of “Say It Ain’t So” and “Buddy Holly.”
Fall Out Boy are the slight odd ones out on the bill since they weren’t graduates from the MTV class of 1994 like Weezer and Green Day, which Pete Wentz acknowledged midway through their set. “Imagine what a mind fuck this is for our band,” he said. “Our band is so influenced by these bands that to be on a stadium tour with them is absolutely mind-blowing. Dream big, you know what I mean?”
They certainly dreamed big with the stage show, which included more pyro than your typical Kiss concert, including flames that shot directly out of Wentz’s bass during their opening number of “The Phoenix.” And when Patrick Stump sat down at the piano to sing “Save Rock and Roll,” that burst into flames as well. There was also a video intro by actor Ron Livingstone that he delivered like Rod Serling of The Twilight Zone.
Natalie Perez for Rolling Stone
Their set featured just a single song from 2018’s Mania (“The Last of the The Real Ones”) and was instead a journey through their hits, including relatively recent ones like “Uma Thurman” and “Centuries” and vintage ones like “Dance, Dance” and “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More Touch Me.” The younger members of the crowd sang along to every word, while the older ones sipped their beers and looked on respectfully.
Fall Out Boy wasn’t a band that seemed built for the long run when they broke big with teens in 2005. And when they took an indefinite break in 2009, it was easy to imagine them going the way of Gym Class Heroes. But they had one of the most surprisingly successful second acts in rock history, and this tour could be the start of a third one since it is basically establishing them as a classic rock group. Who would have guessed?
By the time Green Day took the stage, the sun was down and the crowd was primed for the main event. An explosive “American Idiot” got things started, and they kept the intensity up by going right into “Holiday” and “Know Your Enemy.” Their album Father of All… hit just a little over a year ago, but they didn’t play a thing from it. It was instead classics like “Longview,” “Welcome to Paradise” and “Brain Stew,” and they caused the GA area near the stage to erupt into a giant mosh pit straight out of 1994. A large group of bros even ripped their shirts off and started slamming into each other and everyone near them, letting off 18 months of lockdown steam in a few crazed minutes of Dookie chaos.
Natalie Perez for Rolling Stone
Selections from American Idiot were sprinkled through the entire set, including an epic “Jesus of Suburbia” and a moving “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” These songs were written for the George W. Bush era, but they don’t seem like relics in any way. We’ve only grown more idiotic as a nation since W’s term ended, and these songs are now timeless anthems.
Near the end, they broke out “Still Breathing” from 2016’s under-appreciated Revolution Radio. It’s about finding meaning in life after difficult times, and it had a newfound resonance in the Covid era. “I’m like a soldier coming home for the first time,” Armstrong sang. “I dodged a bullet, and I walked across a landmine/Oh, I’m still alive.”
It was a joy to sing along with those words, and it was a joy to experience live rock and roll in a stadium after all this time. We don’t know what the next few months may hold, but at least for one glorious night, we were all still breathing, and still singing.
Best of Rolling Stone